By  on October 14, 2009

PARIS — For the last 30 years, Armand Hadida and his wife Martine have been combining emerging labels with avant-garde architecture and art to open fashion stores that stand out from the crowd.

Just opened at 40 Rue de Sévigné, between the Carnavalet museum and the elegant Place des Vosges in the Marais, the latest L’Eclaireur looks more like an art gallery or installation rather than a high-end fashion boutique.

Designed by Belgian conceptual artist Arne Quinze, the 4,300-square-foot store has walls covered with recycled materials painted in metallic gray, with 147 encased monitors projecting videos of close-up eyes, playing on a continuous loop.

A giant canopylike wooden sculpture in the entrance welcomes visitors to the theatrical boutique.

Hadida, who doesn’t hide his dislike for the homogeneous look of fashion retailing today, says communicating is one of his main passions, which he likes to enmesh with retail. The decor is meant to interact with customers, as they discover and reach out for the merchandise, he said.

Accessories such as buttery-soft leather bags by Rick Owens, edgy silver jewelry and L’Eclaireur-branded scented candles nest in illuminated alcoves in the walls.

Some of the clothing collections are hidden away behind hydraulically operated panels that open or close with hidden switches.

Along with selected pieces from established houses like Lanvin and Givenchy, there are designs by labels such as Isaac Sellam, the Parisian leather specialist. One of Sellam’s creations, a knee-length chocolate brown crocodile coat, retailing at 12,600 euros, or $18,432 at current exchange rates, is the most expensive item on sale in the boutique, according to sales staff.

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